I used to have a lot of dogs roaming the prison yard; they weren’t real dogs, but they aspired to be like real dogs, loyal to the core. At least that’s the way I imagined them.
As a young man, in the darkness of my disease, I was unable to take care of even myself. I gave away my best buddy Tork. It haunted me for years to come. After I had earned my freedom, I decided to rescue a new best friend from the Seattle animal shelter as a living amends. I would be the best human a dog ever had. I made many heartbreaking trips down during visiting hours before I took action.
K-9 hopes were high whenever a perspective human entered the kennel to potentially post bail.
“Choose me, choose me,” they would bark, killing me with their sad but hopeful eyes.
As a birthday present to myself, I chose Zinc.
Zinc wasn’t always his name. He had been abused and was rail thin, so it was suggested that all things associated with his old life be made new again. After going through the alphabet, I settled on Zinc, the perfect name.
Zinc had it made at our house, he lived in the lap of luxury. But he was uber insecure and a little bit paranoid. When relaxing on his personal goose down comforter and bed size pillow with hand made pillow case, suddenly out of nowhere he would whip his head around and be eye to eye with the angry red wiener that was protruding out of his thick sweater, stare it down and dare it to blink. After an intense period of study and the perceived threat had subsided, he would show some compassion, extend an olive branch and give it a cursory lick, like an Otter Pop.
Zinc often pretended to be a badass, just like me. When attempting to pluck bones out of the bushes he would clamp down and give me a half-hearted grrrr as if to tell me “I’m not givin’ it up.” I would pry open his jaws, shake it loose, and say, “come on tough guy.” He would then give me a shrug as if to say, “water under the bridge”, and continue his unhurried hunt for the next one. He didn’t walk; he moseyed. He didn’t swim, or fetch a stupid stick either. He was on his own trajectory.
On beauty parlor day, my wife Terrell would put on her painters mask and break out the Dremel tool to grind Zinc’s toenails while on the deck.
Once situated and comfy, after a few grinds I would hear a stern “knock it off.” Zinc would get up, sigh heavily wearing his Mr. Frowny Face expression, reposition himself six inches out of reach and plop himself back down, like he didn’t have a care in the world. My wife, Mrs. Frowny Face, would follow suit.
Again, “knock it off.”
This would go on in six-inch increments all the way across the deck. Zinc got his pedicures, Terrell got mad.
I’m an empty nester. Kids just weren’t in my cards for me and my wife, which made Zinc all the more precious to both of us. I often wonder who rescued whom.
We lost our pal last Christmas after he battled cancer and kidney disease. I toggle between grief and joy from the memories of our time together. He was just the best. Long live Zinc. There is plenty of love just waiting to happen down at your local animal rescue.